A new report published in partnership with the UNSW Global Water Institute reveals the key issues to improving water outcomes globally, as perceived through the eyes of people with national water leadership responsibility.

Launched on Monday 29 November at the XVII World Water Congress of the International Water Resources Association in Daegu, Republic of Korea, the inaugural Global Water Policy Report 2021: Listening to National Water Leaders is the result of a comprehensive survey of Ministers, top officials and other national water leaders in 88 countries.

Among their many messages, water leaders are saying:

  • The highest water-related risks their countries face are from climate change and associated pressures on water supplies and worsening floods and droughts.
  • The greatest challenges many face are with integration and prioritisation of water issues within governments. Administrative problems of fragmented water institutions are of as much, if not greater, concern than factors such as public resistance to reforms.
  • COVID-19 has not much affected the priority of water and sanitation services.
  • Sustainable Development Goals on water are ‘challenging’ or ‘impossible’ for many, with governance problems and lack of financing the main reasons for this.
  • While groundwater is considered by many national water leaders to be essential to their country’s future water supply, far fewer consider their groundwater is being used sustainably.

The Global Water Policy Report 2021 is based on the experiences and perspectives of people who have responsibility for achieving ‘sustainable water for all’ in their countries across all regions, with a combined population of over 6 billion people – 75 percent of the world’s population.

The Report was prepared by the Water Policy Group in partnership with the UNSW-GWI, with Director Professor Greg Leslie a co-author of the publication. The UNSW Sydney Office of Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Ian Jacobs, distributed formal invitations to Embassies and Consulates in Australia; Dr Susanne Schmeidl, Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Art Design and Architecture provided expert advice on social research methods and survey design, and Dr Keng Han Tng from the School of Chemical Engineering assisted with data compilation

For more on the Global Water Policy Report or to download a copy, visit the Water Policy Group website.